Getting Connected

Brian Sandalow, Associate Editor

Click here to see this story as it appears in Modern Casting. 

Social media is becoming a bigger part of our lives every day. Whether it’s on our smart phones, tablets or old-fashioned computers, we feel the need to see the latest updates from the friends, teams and businesses we care about.

The metalcasting industry, always looking to stay current with the times, is no different. Many metalcasters do it well and use it effectively to promote their businesses and communicate effectively with customers, and sometimes gain new business via social media.

Modern Casting asked those companies for any advice they can share with other metalcasters looking to dive in. The responses were diverse and should give any company guidelines that’s looking to get started on Facebook or Twitter.

Bremen Castings Inc. (Bremen, Indiana)
Facebook Likes: 2,945
LinkedIn Followers: 884
Twitter Followers: 2,147

Why did you decide to use social media?
BCI wanted a way to communicate with employees, community, customers and fellow manufacturers in all fields, just not just the foundry or machining sector.

When did you decide to use social media?
We started using social media in and around the middle of 2010.

What benefits have you seen?
Benefits have come in different ways. The biggest is letting others know what we do at BCI to help with community and also employee recruiting and employee recognition. As far as customers or potential customers, we have about a 50% engagement that we can tell by asking our customers. 

What kind of feedback have you received from customers?
We ask our customers when we visit or they visit if they follow or engage in social media with us or others in the past and it’s about 50%.

What is your social media strategy?
We currently do not have a social media strategy in writing but we do meet to talk about a plan and make adjustments to what we are doing on a daily basis.

Who handles the social media? Is it a designated position?
This area does require a full-time individual for your company to do it correctly. We have tried both ways and we fail when someone is not dedicated 100%. 

Answers submitted by J.B. Brown, president.

Chicago White Metal Casting Inc. (Bensenville, Illinois)
Facebook Likes: 478
LinkedIn Followers: 580
Twitter Followers: 307

Why did you decide to use social media? 
Social media is a powerful marketing tool and a vital component of internet marketing strategy (due to the search engine algorithms being in a constant state of flux).  In order for a page to maintain or improve PageRank, it was significant to stay connected with updates and be able to adjust quickly to the updates that resulted in dramatic and immediate drops after a “roll out.”  Additionally, social media has earned a “holder” on the official promotional “tool belt” due to its importance in branding strategy, exposure, maintaining and improving company image, and the ability to network and connect easily with millions. 

When did you decide to use social media? 
I decided to use social media when I joined the Chicago White Metal team in 2014.  I was previously a marketing manager at another manufacturing company, and was aware that as search engine algorithms became more advanced, the technology in social media would soon follow. 

What benefits have you seen? 
Improved relations with customers, industry organizations, local communities and schools; effective branding; exposure to millions of end users; promotional tools; improving the company image; a noticeable increase in lead activity, when strategy is used correctly; a competitive edge; improved PageRank and organic traffic to the company website. 

What kind of feedback have you received from customers? 
I recall one customer that came to visit us directly commended our marketing efforts, stating that they decided to go with us because we were organically everywhere. Chicago White Metal’s logo and name was found everywhere they looked, so they decided to contact us.  Also, as a direct response in 2015 to another customer asking “I want to know more about who CWM is and what they stand for,” the direction of marketing in 2016 has been focused on getting to know the company and its people.  It has been a very successful campaign. 

What is your social media strategy? 
Without giving away too much information, I would say that our primary focus would be to let the user experience a connection with our company on a personal as well as a professional level.  The individuals we have on our  team have a level of involvement in the community that really exemplifies what our company and its people are all about.  There is an opportunity to get creative and have fun with how it is done, catering to the “popularity contest” of our followers and viewers. 

What advice would you give companies looking to improve their social media presence? 
If you haven’t already—establish a presence now.  Measure results. See what your “fan base” is looking for, and integrate that into your company services and/or products. Get anyone you can involved in your strategy. Have a schedule. Be flexible enough to adjust the strategy, as needed, to narrow the lead base down to a more qualified lead base. 

Who handles the social media? Is it a designated position? 
All social media efforts are handled in-house.

Answers submitted by Roseann Rimocal, Marketing Coordinator.

Sioux City Foundry (Sioux City, Iowa)
Facebook Likes: 365
LinkedIn Followers: 221
Twitter Followers: 331

Why did you decide to use social media?
We decided to begin using social media to build the Sioux City Foundry Co. brand, as well as reach a larger demographic at the fraction of the cost it would take to market to our target audience in the traditional advertising methods. It has proved to be a great tool for our company and has been a positive way to interact with prospects, customers and continue to build the brand. Sioux City Foundry Co. is so diverse in its capabilities, products and services, having five divisions within the company; it has been a great way to hone in on the target markets that would benefit from each product or services.

When did you decide to use social media?
Sioux City Foundry Co. began utilizing social media in our marketing plan in about 2010. We recognized a trend in the business-to-business sector that showed positive results in the areas of interaction, search engine optimization and brand recognition that would spike our customer-base and reach more people in a shorter period of time. We feel we have a lot to offer our customers and it seemed like a very efficient way to reach both our customers and prospects outside of traditional sales methods.

What benefits have you seen?
Sioux City Foundry Co. has seen a positive change in brand recognition, search engine optimization, as well as customer and employee retention. It allows us to communicate quickly with our followers and educate those who had no previous knowledge of some of the products and services we provide.

What kind of feedback have you received from customers?
We see a lot of additional brand recognition from our existing customers. We have seen cases where a long-time foundry customer did not know we offer steel products and processing, reinforcing steel, structural fabrication or contract manufacturing that may benefit their company or the product we manufacture in our metal casting division. Sioux City Foundry has been in the metal industry for 145 years and has evolved with each new opportunity. One of the greatest compliments we receive is our attention to detail and how we treat our customers like family. We truly are a “Foundry Family” here at Sioux City Foundry and we treat our customers as one of the family. We like to say that we don’t just make your products; we make your products better! We take the extra time to make sure we take care of our customers.

What is your social media strategy?
Our social media strategy at Sioux City Foundry Co. is always evolving! Based on market trends and who we are as a company, we like to incorporate all types of media to balance between the fun, company events we are hosting such as our Manufacturing Day and 145th anniversary celebration we hosted in October, to new products and services such as being honored by SSAB in 2016 as a Hardox Wearparts manufacturer. It has really proved to be a great tool to share and collaborate with others in the industry, share information we think has great merit in the industry, and keep followers up-to-date on all new and exciting progress at Sioux City Foundry Co.

What advice would you give companies looking to improve their social media presence?
Balance and post often. Balance your use of photos, videos, sharing industry news, company events, employee and company achievements with your use of advertising products and services for your company. Mix it up and post often. See it as a tool for collaboration, rather than a task or chore you must complete to be a part of the world. Believe in your brand, and project that in your social media and marketing strategy.

Who handles the social media? Is it a designated position?
Rachel Arneson, our Graphic Designer/Tech Assistant handles our social media, graphic design, web design and marketing for Sioux City Foundry Co. with suggestions for posts and input from all divisions. Developing content for five divisions can be challenging because so many great things are happening here at Sioux City Foundry Co., but I am so thankful for the input and excitement from our divisions regarding their projects and new developments within the company. The more we utilize social media and gain brand recognition outside of our regular customer base, the greater the enthusiasm within the company to show off their projects and services. It creates a great sense of pride when they are explaining their new project or idea and want to use social media to share with the world!

Answers submitted via Twitter direct message by Rachel Arneson, graphic designer/tech assistant.

AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company, (Birmingham, Alabama)
LinkedIn Followers: 2,606
Twitter Followers: 381

Why did you decide to use social media?
In December 2013, we launched our online News Center that features stories about product installations, new products and innovations, awards and achievements, community involvement and more. We had been using LinkedIn for quite some time, and saw Twitter as another channel we could use to tell our story. 

When did you decide to use social media?
We joined Twitter in February 2015, and have seen consistent growth. We continue to look for ways to engage our current followers and acquire new ones. 

What benefits have you seen?
Through social media, we are able to build and maintain relationships, support product launches and raise brand awareness. We are now a part of the conversation. Our stories are seen and shared by our customers, media, local community, employees and industry associations/organizations.

What kind of feedback have you received from customers?
AMERICAN has a long and rich history of being a go-to resource for ductile iron pipe, and valve and hydrant customers in the waterworks industry. We want to be partners in their success, making them aware of new products and innovations, and providing solutions to tough installation challenges. Social media is an extension of that communication. It is a responsibility we don’t take lightly.

What is your social media strategy?
We use Twitter and LinkedIn to tell AMERICAN’s story, all while driving traffic to the AMERICAN News Center and conference exhibits, boosting our search engine rankings and increasing visibility of our brand in the marketplaces and communities we serve. 

What advice would you give companies looking to improve their social media presence?
Keep your messaging consistent and maintain an ongoing presence. Be conversational and keep content diverse by finding a balance between promoting your brand and providing value. Follow people and groups that share your interests—favorite their posts, retweet, actively have conversations. Follow trends of the day and look for ways to make a connection to your brand.

Who handles the social media? Is it a designated position?
Social media is handled by our Communications and Marketing groups.

Answers submitted by Crystal Sorrelle, senior communications specialist.

Wendy Pilcher is the marketing manager for MAGMA Foundry Technologies (Schaumburg, Illinois). She has vast experience in the metalcasting industry and also knows her way around social media. Modern Casting asked Pilcher for her thoughts on how metalcasters can be successful in the social realm.

For foundries, what are the benefits of using social media?
Prospects are always lurking in the background trying to learn as much as they can about you, your organization and your products and services before they even consider reaching out to actually speak with you. Posting items relevant to your prospect’s and your customer’s wants and needs shows them that you care and you are interested in their success as well as the success of our industry. YouTube videos give prospects and customers a front row seat to see who you are and what you are about. Conversation about your organization, your products and your services are happening around you, it is best if you are an active part of that conversation.

What are the keys to successful social media?
Fresh, relevant, consistent posts that have to do with your organization, your customers and prospect’s wants and needs, your products and services. In addition, post about things that are happening in the industry that are interesting, fun or informative. Likewise, post fun, interesting facts or events happening in the world, especially if they are somewhat related to the foundry world. “What’s in it for me” is what your “followers” are looking for, so post from their point of view, not yours.

What are some pitfalls foundries need to avoid?
Biting off more than they can chew. Do not start posting on every social media platform. Not all of them are relevant to our industry. In addition, coming up with fresh relevant content can take time, so commit to twitter or LinkedIn or YouTube first and build from there. Use a dashboard like Hootsuite so you can post to multiple platforms at a time instead of signing onto each platform. Dashboards also allow you to schedule posts so you do not need to sign on everyday. Be careful with this though, you do not want to schedule and article you read today to post next week. By then it is not fresh or relevant.

Is it easy to set up?
Yes, all social media platforms are easy to set up. But again, if you use more than one, use a dashboard to make your posting life easier. All platforms and dashboards have free services. Some have additional costs for different levels of services. For what the foundry world needs, you should not have to pay for any social media platforms or dashboards; their free offerings should be enough.

Is there anything else you can add?
Try to use a “call to action” in your posts, have a link to a paper or something else that people need to register for to capture leads, or at the very least a link can help you see if people are interested in what you are putting out there. However, if you use a call to action that people have to register for in every post, you will lose followers and activity on your social media sites.